12th October 2010 New York, USA

UN General Assembly in NYC

Guest blog: Mike Niles, Press & Public Affairs, British Consulate-General, New York

Word to the wise: if you are ever in New York the third week of September and feel like a quiet walk through midtown Manhattan, I suggest taking a look at Central Park or Wall Street instead. When world leaders descend on midtown for the annual opening of the UN General Assembly, ‘quiet’ is not a word to describe the streets.

Whether you are being redirected through the streets and avenues by NY Police Department or standing behind barriers waiting for the President’s motorcade to drive past, it is difficult not to feel a little excitement during this time where all of the world’s greatest powers are working together just around the corner.


Some of those world leaders are representing our interests: British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited New York to address the General Assembly and speak about the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate poverty and disease from countries around the world. The government feels that the targets previously set are not being met by enough countries and agreed to present the Assembly with a petition from Avaaz which encourages world leaders to keep their promises. For our part, at least, Mr Clegg announced that the UK has renewed its commitment to the MDGs with steps to save the lives of 50,000 mothers and a quarter of a million babies by 2015.

Alongside meeting government leaders in NYC, the Deputy PM also fielded questions from future leaders – students at New York University. Here’s a great video we produced from the NYU event with Mr Clegg’s responses to some interesting questions. Deputy Prime Minister at NYU

Another visitor was the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, who had a frenetic schedule of bilateral meetings and meetings outside the UN with British American Business leaders and at the Council on Foreign Relations. Reaching out to those who weren’t in NY, he also questions on Twitter about all types of Foreign Office business including Iran and Climate Change. On the topic of climate change, Mr Hague’s speech at the Council on Foreign Relations outlined why action is critical and highlighted the technological advancements that are creating sustainable growth in the UK. The breakfast event featured a discussion with the Foreign Secretary and guests – clips of which can be viewed here.


After UNGA we hosted the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.

The streets around midtown have calmed down (although only by Manhattan standards). We have a busy month ahead, on which we’ll blog again in a couple of weeks.

About Dominic Meiklejohn

I was born in Woking, outside London, in 1967 and attended Merton College, Oxford University, graduating in Politics, Philosophy and Economics. After university, I worked for HM Customs and Excise…

I was born in Woking, outside London, in 1967 and attended Merton College, Oxford University, graduating in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

After university, I worked for HM Customs and Excise before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1990. After working for the European Community Department, I learned Polish and began a posting at the British Embassy Warsaw, where I headed the British Know How Fund for Poland (1993-96). In 1997, I worked for the OSCE Mission in Albania, before heading up the India team in the South Asian Department of the FCO. In 2000, I was posted as First Secretary to the British Embassy Warsaw, with a particular focus on European Union issues in the run-up to Poland’s accession to the EU. In 2003, I returned to the UK as Deputy Head of the Environment Policy Department. From 2004-2005, I led the FCO’s Knowledge Management Programme. During this period, I led two deployments of the FCO’s Consular Rapid Deployment Team– to Sri Lanka, after the tsunami in 2004 and to Pakistan, after the earthquake in 2005. From 2006-2007, I served as Deputy Consul-General, Basra, Iraq. From June 2007 I worked with the FCO’s Change Unit.

I took up my current appointment on 22 January 2008. My wife Joanne and I are the proud parents of Olivia. Outside of the office, I cycle around Manhattan, play soccer (football) and, when parenting duties allow, enjoy the cultural riches offered by New York. I try hard to understand baseball.